<
>

Falcons WR coach Terry Robiskie: Devin Hester's role is to win

While Devin Hester's primary role is as a return man, his explosiveness can be utilized on offense as well. AP Photo/John Bazemore

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- A lot has been made during Atlanta Falcons training camp about Devin Hester's role in the offense.

This offseason, Hester told ESPN.com he was uncertain about his place in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme and wouldn't know until mid-training camp. He was by no means disgruntled when he addressed the matter. That being said, the emergence of rookie Justin Hardy as a primary slot guy only fuels more speculation about Hester's touches coming off a season during which he caught 38 passes for 504 yards and two touchdowns.

The topic was brought up to wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, and Robiskie's response spoke volumes about the mindset he wants from all of his receivers.

"Tell him his role is to win a game," Robiskie said. "That's easy. Tell Devin Hester his role is to win the game. That's all. Tell him I said so.

"I don't care what he is. He can be the quarterback if he wants as long as he can go out there and win the game. ... When we put him in the game, wherever we send him, go win the game. That's his role."

Of course, Hester's primary role is as the team's return specialist. He was named to the Pro Bowl last season in his first year with the Falcons. He also set an NFL record with his 20th return score with a 62-yard punt return touchdown against Tampa Bay. But even at the age of 32, Hester can't be discounted for what he can do on offense with his elusive ability. Last year, he ranked fifth in the league with an average of 6.7 yards after the catch.

Hester missed Sunday's practice to rest a sore toe and ankle. He isn't concerned about it becoming a lingering issue.

A few quick-hit items from the eighth practice of training camp:

• The offensive line shuffling continued with Chris Chester seeing work at both guard spots and James Stone, the starting center at the end of last season, continuing to get work at guard. The line combination for the start of full-team drills was Jake Matthews at left tackle, Stone at left guard, Joe Hawley at center, Chester at right guard and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle. It might be the group most capable of running the outside zone blocking scheme effectively.

• Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman remained sidelined with hamstring strains while outside linebacker Brooks Reed missed another practice with a groin/hip injury. Undrafted rookie Terron Ward was the first running back up with the starters, while Kroy Biermann continued to get extensive work at strong-side linebacker in place of Reed. Freeman, Coleman, Reed and defensive lineman Cliff Matthews (ankle) all did exercises on a side field with the athletic performance staff.

• Fullback Collin Mooney, a former standout at Army, got an extended look with the first group. It seemed only appropriate on military appreciation day.

• The music playlist for practice included Lil Jon ("Snap Yo Fingers"), D.R.A.M. ("Cha Cha") and 2 Chainz ("Crack").